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US Senators warn govt over ‘deteriorating democracy in Uganda’

Senators Jeff Flake, (R-Ariz), left, and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), in a new statement, have warned of the deteriorating democracy in Uganda (FILE PHOTO)

WASHINGTON – US senators have expressed concern over what they described as deterioration of democracy and human rights in Uganda.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also condemned the Ugandan government for brutalising journalists and torturing opposition Members of Parliament in the Arua municipality chaos.

“As members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we are gravely concerned about the continued deterioration of democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms in Uganda. The actions of the Government of Uganda towards its critics—protesters, opposition supporters, and parliamentarians like Members of Parliament Frances Zaake and Robert Kyangulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine—are unacceptable,” the statement reads in part.

“Likewise, we are extremely troubled by the beating and arrest of journalists during these events, and by reports that foreign correspondents are being denied accreditation to work in Uganda,” it adds.

The senators also called for action against security forces that brutalised protesters and journalists in Arua, including the killing of Yasiin Kawuma, Bobi Wine’s driver.

Bobi Wine’s driver Yasin Kawooya was shot in a scuffle as violence subdued the last campaign days in the hotly contested August 15 Arua Municipality by-elections (FILE PHOTO)

“We call upon the Ugandan authorities to conduct a credible investigation into the murder of Yasin Kawuma, and into the reports of beatings, torture, and the use of lethal force on civilians by security forces during the Arua Municipality by-election campaign and subsequent protests, and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. It is critical to Uganda’s democracy that Parliament is respected as an independent institution of the government, and that Members of Parliament can execute their mandate without threat or interference. We strongly urge President Museveni and the Ugandan Government to adhere to the rule of law and respect freedom of expression, press, and assembly granted by the country’s constitution. As Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake return to Uganda after medical treatment, we will closely monitor their situation and that of those who face charges alongside them.”

Ugandan security officers clobber REUTERS photojournalist, James Akena covering the Bobi Wine protests August 20 (FILE PHOTO)

The statement comes days after the European Union Parliament warned the Kampala regime against human rights violations in the wake of the Arua chaos and called for respect of all fundamental freedoms.

However, the government on Monday hit back, accusing the European Union of neo-colonialism and meddling into the affairs of a sovereign state.

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